Story-formed

Being my bookish self, I loved finding a book I’d never before seen called Reading the Classics with C.S. Lewis, just sitting on the shelf at Agia Sophia while I waited for my cappuccino. Lewis is one of my favorite authors- companion of my wildest imaginations in childhood and then mentor/older brother to my dire spiritual quests in my teen years. This particular volume appealed to my writer’s heart as it is a step by step examination of Lewis as professor of literature and literary critic. This aspect of Lewis is often superseded by his reputation as storyteller and apologist, yet it made up the main bulk of his life. I’m a bookworm anyway, so I’ve loved every chapter (each focues on one period in literary history, examining Lewis’ knowledge and love of the works from that era) simply for the celebration of stories through the centuries. I’ve put together a great book list for myself.

Beyond that, I’ve had a bit of a revelation as I’ve seen how deeply Lewis was shaped by every single story he read. It’s so easy to think of him as this naturally brilliant guy- speaker, writer, apologist, professor, just one of those gifted people whose minds were diamond sharp from birth. But this book convinces me that his skills (at least in part) weren’t happenstance. He was trained from boyhood to be a reader, to be immersed in the vivid imaginations of everyone from the Greeks to Spenser, to Shakespeare, to Tolkien. His reading was wide, varied, and attentive. He was taught, and taught others, to take each word and metaphor and image encountered within the pages of literature and mine it for treasures of meaning, insight, illumination. He had an incredibly strong mind, but its because he had a robust life of reading, thinking, and then, creating. Every word he read, every symbol he encountered, every imaginative metaphor, every image of god or planet or beast worked its way into his mind and then reformed itself in the stories he told. There’s no denying the fact that Lewis was a brilliant man, but I am beginning to see how much of his brilliance was enhanced by the stories that formed and gave a fuller vocabulary to his imagination. His incredible output of imaginary and apologetic brilliance in his books was, at least in part, the direct result of a lifetime of trained reading.

I want to be like that. You know how once in awhile you come across something, an experience, a book, a moment in prayer, that reveals your own soul to you. It’s as if something in that moment leaps out to join something in you that was waiting to be released and validated, and you come alive to a sense of purpose. I’ve felt that way lately. I’ve always known I loved to write, loved to think, to see truth illumined through story. But its the golden moments I’ve discovered in books like this one that have helped me to know for sure that one of the main things (mind now, there are others too, but this one for now) I want to do with my life is learn to be a strong thinker and skilled storyteller.

That’s why I’ve decided to finally submit my wild-eyed gypsy self to the temporary confines of college. Now is as good a time as any to tell you that I’m thinking I’ll be heading off to Houghton College (in NY) in the fall of this year, to start their degree course in Creative Writing & English. It’s one of those decisions that seems so far off in the mist enshrouded future that it hardly feels real, but unless God changes my life/heart/mind, I know with a will and a vim that what I want to do is be a writer, a storyteller, a thinker, and I want the training that only a great literary education can provide. Yes, I’ll be 25. A freshman at 25. Now there’s an adventure for you. But I love adventures.

More on that as the journey progresses. For now, I am writing my talk for the upcoming conferences with Wholeheart, scheduling the editing for my book, and helping move Joel to Boston where he’s attending Berklee. Life’s crazy and beautiful and overwhleming and very, very good. I hope your January is off to a brilliant start. Next post: English Postcards!

A gorgeous day to you friends.

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11 Comments

Filed under Books, Musings

11 responses to “Story-formed

  1. KellieC

    Thrilled for you sweet Sarah! What an exciting time for you and your household.

    I’m praying for the upcoming conferences and will continue to add the Clarkson Kids with my own attending college. Having an amazing start to 2009 here in Va! We just want a bit of snow, but we’re not likely to get it. Hugs!

  2. I’m incredibly biased about the Creative Writing/English degree, since that’s what mine is! I loved college just for the deep talks about little-known, long-dead European authors, full-length pages of sentence diagramming, and long lectures about the history of the English language. My poetry class was my favorite, and although there were only a handful of us going for the same degree, it was a deep kinship we shared! We were romantics in a school full of business majors πŸ™‚

    Blessings to you this year as you look toward the future! And you’ll probably find that you’re not the only 25-year old freshman there this fall! But if you are, everybody else will just consider you really cool and mature πŸ™‚

  3. Katie

    College as a Lit Major is tons of fun πŸ™‚ I’ve been lurking on your blog for awhile now, but had to comment on this. I have a degree from the University at Albany in NY in literature, and I miss the classes oh so very much. Nothing beats the stimulating conversations. I would love to meet you if indeed you do end up at Houghton – I live in central NY. I also have a friend who attends Houghton whom I met on a mission trip to Romania. I’m sure you will be the smartest freshman there! Enjoy your new journey as it approaches – it will be here before you know it.

  4. What a great post! I’m writing down the title of that book on my “to read” list. It sounds very good. Your post is just along the same lines as the commentary on Romans 12:1-2 I’m reading: James M. Boice on Romans. He’s been spending chapter after chapter urging Christians to become strong thinkers.

    I’m happy for your college plans. I’m sure it will be interesting going to college as a freshman at age 25, but I’ve had several friends who’ve done that, and i’m sure it will be a good adventure.

  5. I packed off to UCLA at 18 with entrance to the Theater department but quickly switched to English and spent four glorious years wading through history and poetry and prose and all the rest. I waltzed into a great job but missed the intellectual stimulation more than I enjoyed the paycheck (good thing my husband made enough $ for the both of us). So I left the corporate world and returned to become a professor. Kids happened along (twins to start with! Special needs to boot!) and I left the classroom but never the learning adventure.

    I still read copiously, write incessantly, and educate/guide my children with the highest of standards and the finest of supplies (as has your mom, I believe). They spread their wings these days in literature, writing, science, chemistry, you name it . . . but I keep right on learning along with them.

    25 is young and wise all at the same time — a fabulous age to reach out for another brass ring as you whiz around the “go ’round” of life. Keep reaching . . . keep writing . . . keep celebrating. It’s kept me young and eager for the next mountain to climb.

    My prayers continue for you . . . my rejoicing with you, as well. : D

    p.s.
    Your poor mom will have seen quite an exodus in a very short period of time. I can hear her buttons bursting as she gently wipes away the tears. Life is Good when God leads the way.

    p.p.s.
    Can’t wait for those “Postcard” posts! ; )

  6. Hello!

    My name is Cassie, and I’ve actually been lurking around your blog for quite a while now… I love reading what you write, and actually wishing I could meet you. πŸ™‚

    Reading this particular entry made my mouth drop open, actually, because I’ve been a student at Houghton College for the past three and a half years. I’m graduating this spring, and am sorry to be leaving before you get here. I too am an English and Writing major, and I think you’ll find that the professors here are wonderful. Houghton itself is fantastic, and it has become my favorite place in all the world.

    Blessings to you!
    Cassie

  7. Oh I am SO very happy for you! Sunshine

  8. Tiffany

    Like Katie and Cassie, I have been lurking here for quite a while; I am always encouraged and inspired by your posts! I love your attitude of embracing adventure and knowledge. I am 17 and will be attending college this fall as well, and I truly hope you will keep blogging as you go to Houghton. I, as well as many others, I’m sure, would be so encouraged by it!

    In Christ,
    Tiffany

  9. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but here I am and I’m enjoying it tremendously. Your writing is delightful. It sounds like you just might be in for an adventure. But, don’t think you are too old to go to school. I am a middle aged woman who also loves to read and write, and I never attended college. So, better at 25 than 50-something. But, then again, maybe someday…

    Lewis is also one of my favortie authors. I’m an elementary school librarian and some of my students are simply enthralled with The Chronicles. That makes me very happy.

    I enjoyed your blog.

  10. Sounds like a book to look into! πŸ™‚ You’re so insightful… Someday people will be quoting you.

  11. P.S. Wow! We’ll be college freshmen at the same time! πŸ˜€ We’ll have to keep each other posted on our experiences when fall rolls around… πŸ™‚

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